Basic guideline for MRCS PART A

This is going to a brief guideline on MRCS exam. I hope after reading this you will have a clear idea how to tackle this exam and give your best from start. I shall write in detail so this is going to be a long post.

Let’s begin with the exam format-
The MRCS exam consists of two parts-. 
1.Part A- is a written paper using multiple choice questions. (MCQs)
2.Part B – is an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE).

There are four Royal colleges that conduct the exam -Royal Colleges of Edinburgh, England, Glasgow and in Ireland. They have worked together to produce the intercollegiate MRCS examination. All the colleges will have the same exam. For Part A all of them conduct on the same question on the same day, at same time all though out the world. As for part B as well they conduct the same question pattern as well, in Uk all many other countries at different venues spread throughout the year long. I will write more on Part B on the next post.

PART A:

  • It is a five hour MCQ examination consisting of a three hour paper (Applied Basic Science) followed by a two hour paper (Principles of Surgery in General), still taken on the same day.
  • Paper 1- the Applied Basic Science paper will consist of 180 questions -3 hrs
  • Paper 2 – Principles of Surgery in General will consist of 120 questions -2 hrs
  • It is a very lengthy paper, you basically have 1 minute for each question. It hard to cope up since paper 2 questions are lengthy, although you will be given a break in-between both papers of about 1 and half hour or so but trust me it will feel like an eternal especially in the last hour.
  • From September 2018 they removed extended matching questions(EMQs) so you guys are lucky and u don’t have to worry about EMQs anymore. Only single best answer MCQs will be used in paper from now on.
  • Exams are conducted 3 times a year- January, April and September same as in uk and overseas.

 

Eligibility:

  • A candidate must possess a primary medical qualification that is acceptable to the united kingdom General medical council. If you want to check if your medical college is enlisted or not you can check the following link- but usually most of our country’s medical college should be enlisted.
    World Directory of Medical Schools on http://search.wdoms.org/.
  • You do not require to show any experience after your MBBS to appear in the exam, but I would recommend you to gather some clinical exposure before appearing MRCS exam – because paper 1 is applied basic subjects and paper 2 is on clinical scenarios from different specialities like trauma & orthopaedics ,paediatric surgery, plastic surgery, vascular surgery ,urology , then you have basic surgical skills ,general surgical principals, which will be hard if u don’t have clinical exposure ,and for MRCS PART B- half of the exam is on clinical skills. That being said if you are highly determined and can work hard u can surely straight away after getting MBBS certificate.

Please note Candidates are allowed up to six attempts at the MRCS Part A. but people really don’t have to take that many times.

Booking exam:

  • In Bangladesh MRCS part A only England and Glasgow college conduct their exam . England college do handle the paperwork through British Council or you could send on your own. For Glasgow you have to send your documents on your own completely. Whichever you choose exam will be the same on British Council.

 

Choosing which college:

  • Absolutely doesn’t matter since you will be member of that college from where you pass your part B.And even after passing mrcs part B you can just be a member of the other colleges as well, ofcourse after paying membership fees to the college you want to become a member of.

Payment :

  • £ 539 sometime they vary a little from country to country. U can pay through online by international credit card or bank draft also.
  • After the payment they will ask u this to send documents within a time frame
  • An original attested copy of your Primary Medical Degree Certificate
    (Please note: attested copies must state “This is a true copy of the original” and must be stamped by the awarding body, Lawyer, Solicitor, or GMC Registrant. The GMC registrant number must be included. The attested original copy must also be signed and dated). So basically you will have to attest your MBBS certificate (the one given to you from your respective University , not registration certificate from BMDC). You can get it attested from British council for which they will charge you, or get it notarized which will be much cheaper.
  • You will also include a cover letter- stating your full name, date of birth and your email address , (if you are paying by bank draft) and send to them either through British council ( if through England College) or by courier yourself.

Study duration required:

This is the most asked question but it varies so much and not the same answer of everyone. It will mostly depend upon your background knowledge and second how must effort you can give for this exam. For instance if you are a fresh graduate then you will probably need to give more time to study around 5 months – 6 months. If you are already in an academic environment then you will require less time around 3 months – 6 months managing your work side by side with moderate effort. And if you can really study hard and you have loads of experience then 1-2 month should be enough.

Study content:

Below is a guide to the numbers of questions covering each topic :

  • Paper 1 Applied Basic Science -total 180 Questions
    • 1. Applied Surgical Anatomy–75 Questions
    • 2. Applied Surgical Physiology–45 questions
    • 3. Applied Surgical Pathology–37 questions
    • 4. Pharmacology as applied to surgical practice –8 questions
    • 5. Microbiology as applied to surgical practice–7 questions
    • 6. Imaging–5 questions
    • 7. Data interpretation and audit–3 questions

 

  • Paper 2 – Principles of Surgery in General- total 120 Questions
    • 1 Common congenital and acquired surgical conditions–45 questions
    • 2 Perioperative management –35 questions
    • 3 Assessment and management of patients with trauma (including themultiply injured patient)–30 questions
    • 4 Surgical care of children–7 questions
    • 5 Medico-legal aspects of surgical practice–3 questions

This table will help on how much time you should allocate your time towards your final preparation In the final hours of revision. Usually paper 2 is the toughest since it comprises questions from all surgical specialities (trauma and orthopaedics is their hot favourite always) also basic surgical principals.
U can find the whole syllabus for mrcs part A in the following link-
https://www.intercollegiatemrcsexams.org.uk/-/media/files/imrcs/mrcs/mrcs-candidate-guidance/candidate-guide-to-mrcs-examination_july2018.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1bYuR-U3IogAL-WbuIdRt4gO4JWb7oRouPDKSl-OKlKxbUmN6K0I-wI_E

 

To achieve a pass in Part A

1. The candidate will be required to demonstrate a minimum level of competence in each of the two papers, in addition
2. To achieving or exceeding the pass mark set for the combined total mark from both papers.
so your marks for both papers will be added to set a pass mark, I cannot stress how important it is to score as much as possible in paper 1, since paper 1 is all basic science which are pretty straight forward questions especially Anatomy since will be 25 % of whole part A which can easily be scored.
Marks will not be deducted for a wrong answer so needless to say that if you are not sure of the answer of a question at-least just mark for an answer and not leave it blank.
Usually pass mark is around 70% range.

Study Materials

Without any doubt you should start studying from question banks and previous exams( recalls) that are available and supplement it from books on those topics only.
Questions banks available are
eMRCS- revise atleast twice or more.
Pastest- does not reflect much with real exam but their lengthy questions help you prepare for paper2.
Onexamination-I have not read so cannot comment.
These are available in Nilkhet but I must say they are little backdated but will do the job. Obviously if you can afford then do consider subscribing them.
Recalls – questions are repeated all the time, so collect recalls ( you will easily find them on online facebook pages) as much possible and start solving them.

For Paper 1

Basic Science for the MRCS: A revision guide for surgical trainees- this is a good book and very concise, every line has information.For rest of the basic subjects – whichever books you studied for your MBBS should be enough.
Sheet Fawzia- I have to highly recommend you to completely memorize this

For Paper 2

SBAs for the MRCS Part A: A Bailey & Love Revision Guide-
MRCS Part A: Essential Revision Notes Book 1 and book 2 from PasTest- Catherine Parchment Smith- go only through the topics covered from questions banks
Mastering EMQ- Emqs are gone just but content is valuable

If you have ample time and nothing else to do in life then u can go through these
Note EMQ s are obsolete now so u can just go through the topics only
EMQ by irfan sayeed.
MRCS Part A: 500 SBAs and EMQs by Pradip K Datta
500 Single Best Answer Questions in General and Systemic Pathology-Shahzad Raja
500 Single Best Answer Questions in General and Systemic Physiology-Shahzad Raja
500 Single Best Answer Questions in Basic and Applied Anatomy- Shahzad Raja

Online courses:

With all the materials mentioned above at hand, you should be able to study amongst your peer members. But if you still require professional help there are many online courses available these days – Nasa Khan notes, Ali Mansour notes, Dr Salah notes- all are excellent. Salah Elsaid have been passionate with MRCS for a long time, he keeps himself regularly updated , complied all materials in one place and eager to help everyone.He has been kind enough to share his hard work of compiling most of important materials in this link-
https://drive.google.com/folderview…

Study technique:

Since this is so important I am writing this part even separately. Discussion and practice amongst your colleagues is the key to success. If you don’t have colleagues around you giving exams there are many online groups out there, or you can just make new groups for discussion.

Exam day:

Your exam day will arrive in the blink of an eye after you have submitted your fees. I had my exam from 1:30 pm till 6pm Bangladesh standard time. Usually happens within this time frame ± 1hr here and there. So prepare yourself beforehand to can have your peak ability at afternoon period like rescheduling your study time a week and half before exam day.
Morning of exam day try to be relaxed and don’t study anything because u need to conserve your stamina mainly for paper 2 because its going to be a gruesome, intensive , lengthy exam.
Don’t forget to take your passport or driver’s license as proof of identity. Stationery will be provided but best take your own stuff.
As I mentioned earlier you will have a break in-between. Have a good snack and perhaps some paracetamol because paper 2 is the real challenge both mentally and physically.

Hope this long post will help you to prepare yourself properly for MRCS Part A exam
If you have any queries do knock me I will try my best to help out.


Md Mahfooz Buksh
MBBS, MRCS

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